It was the Revenge Of The Embattled in Week 3 of the 2012 college football season. The country's two best performers were not exactly regarded too highly, not too long ago.
1. Jeff Driskel, Florida
After a sluggish start to
his career Saturday's game versus Tennessee, Driskel and the Gators' offense exploded. Driskel's first five pass attempts in Knoxville on Saturday netted just five completions and 43 yards. The rest of the game, he went 9-for-12 for 176 yards and four touchdowns. He threw in 81 rushing yards (on just eight carries) for good measure, and he even included a Heisman moment of sorts.
THAT is how you win the week.
2. David Ash, Texas
We weren't without warning here. As I'm sure you remember, the previously embattled Ash sneaked onto the Honorable Mention list last week for going 16-for-22 passing for 221 yards and gashing out 52 rushing yards on two carries against New Mexico. Honorable mention doesn't score you any points, but last week's performance at Ole Miss did: 19-for-23 passing for 326 yards and four touchdowns (and no sacks or interceptions), along with 19 yards in two carries. He certainly had help -- Marquise Goodwin gained 182 yards in four touches, receiver Mike Davis raised his game, and former five-star running backs Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray combined for 178 yards in 30 carries -- but Ash steered the 'Horns to a nearly flawless, 66-point, 676-yard performance.
3. Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
It is typically rather difficult to gauge how much credit to give West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith for his navigation of the Dana Holgorsen offense. Because so many of his passes are so short, he is going to naturally have a high completion rate; and because so many of his passes are going to either Tavon Austin or Stedman Bailey, who then dash upfield for lovely gains, he is going to naturally have a good passing line. He still leads the way in the Heisman Horse Race, but in Week 3 he was one-upped by a member of his supporting cast. If you not only catch all 13 passes thrown your way, but you also then take those passes for 173 yards and score three touchdowns, you make the week's Top 3. Even though the opponent was James Madison, few of the country's receivers would have gone 13-for-13 for 173 yards. Absurd.
4. Aaron Murray, Georgia
Also absurd: averaging 18.0 yards per pass attempt, even against Florida Atlantic. To make this list despite playing a terrible opponent, your stats have to pop; Murray's popped: 14-for-19, 342 yards, two touchdowns, one interception. Long pass after long pass after long pass. Georgia dilly-dallied a bit early on against FAU, then hit the accelerator, scoring 56 points and gaining a ridiculous 713 yards (11.3 per play).
5. Geno Smith, West Virginia
Bailey and Austin make life easy, but you're still going to make the list when you complete 34 of 39 passes for 411 yards and five touchdowns. You just are. Heisman voters are seduced by stats -- it's why quarterbacks win so frequently and why defenders never win -- and Smith's stats are just too gaudy to ignore.
6. Kyle Van Noy, BYU
It may be difficult for a defender to draw attention with his stat line, but BYU linebacker Van Noy figured out how: he logged an absurd 4.5 tackles for loss (1.5 sacks), forced a fumble and broke up a pass in the Holy War against Utah on Saturday night. His Cougars eventually lost, but Van Noy is probably the biggest reason why BYU has allowed fewer than 300 yards in nine consecutive games and hasn't allowed more than 254 this season.
7. Denard Robinson, Michigan
It almost seems underwhelming for him, but in a 63-13 win over UMass, Robinson (ho hum) gained 106 yards on 10 carries and completed 16 of 24 passes for 291 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. You couldn't even go 300-100, Denard? Yawn.
8. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford
Taylor single-handedly produced over half of Stanford's offense in a 21-14 win over USC. His 32 touches (27 carries, five catches) gained 213 yards and scored two touchdowns. Stanford's other 37 plays: 204 yards, one touchdown. His early 59-yard run was the Cardinal's first big haymaker of the night, and after he did his dirty work, the defense took over down the stretch.
Hey, speaking of USC ... through three weeks, Matt Barkley has zero points in the Horse Race. Again, why do we insist on naming a "preseason favorite"?
9. Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Another week, another highlight-reel run, and another efficient passing performance from Miller, the third of four players to have made this list a second time. Miller rushed 12 times for 75 yards and a touchdown (his score was from 55 yards out; Cal actually did a good job of otherwise hemming him in), and he completed 16 of 30 passes for 249 yards, four touchdowns and a pick. This list is dominated by quarterbacks this week (and every year), but ... stat lines like these are too difficult to ignore.
10. Taylor Martinez, Nebraska
Martinez is a perfect quarterback for when his team has the lead. He can lead a rock solid running game (we've always known that), but NU has successfully utilized a solid amount of standard downs passing to keep opponents off guard and allow Martinez to build up some lovely stats. He completed 13 of 14 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns against Arkansas State last week, and he carved out a solid 77 rushing yards in nine non-sack carries as well. He just edges out players like Fresno State's Robbie Rouse, Miami's Duke Johnson and Texas Tech's Seth Doege for the No. 10 spot. For the season, he is now completing 71 percent of his passes, and his 25 non-sack carries have gone for 225 yards. He is still a flawed quarterback, but he is damn sure making the most of his strengths.
- A.J. Barker, Minnesota (eight targets, five catches, 101 yards, three touchdowns versus Western Michigan)
- Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville (23-for-28 passing for 279 yards, three touchdowns, three sacks and 8.1 yards per pass attempt versus North Carolina)
- Trey Burton, Florida (three carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns, two catches for 38 yards versus Tennessee)
- Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech (19-for-24 passing for 276 yards, four touchdowns, one sack and 10.8 yards per pass attempt versus Rice)
- Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina (5.5 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks versus UAB
- Derek Carr, Fresno State (17-for-22 passing for 300 yards, five touchdowns, one interception versus Colorado)
- Seth Doege, Texas Tech (27-for-35 passing for 340 yards and six touchdowns versus New Mexico)
- Jonathan Dowling, Western Kentucky (2.5 tackles, three interceptions, complete ownage of the Kentucky passing game)
- David Fales, San Jose State (27-for-34 passing for 370 yards, three touchdowns, two sacks and 9.9 yards per pass attempt versus Colorado State)
- Johnathan Franklin, UCLA (25 carries for 110 yards, four catches for 58 versus Houston)
- Marquise Goodwin, Texas (four touches -- two catches, two carries -- for 182 yards and two touchdowns versus Ole Miss)
- D.J. Harper, Boise State (17 touches -- 16 carries, one catch -- for 183 yards and four touchdowns versus Miami-Ohio)
- Akeem Hunt, Purdue (five touches -- four carries, one catch -- for 156 yards and two touchdowns versus Eastern Michigan)
- Duke Johnson, Miami (14 carries for 94 yards and two touchdowns; four targets, three catches for 57 yards and a touchdown; one kickoff return touchdown versus Bethune-Cookman)
- Tevin King, Louisiana Tech (22 carries for 204 yards versus Rice)
- Collin Klein, Kansas State (15-for-20 passing for 230 yards, two touchdowns and an interception; 11 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown versus North Texas)
- Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (20-for-36 passing for 294 yards, four touchdowns, two sacks and 7.5 yards per pass attempt; 11 carries for 133 yards and two touchdowns versus SMU)
- Gabe Marks, Washington State (seven targets, six catches, 126 yards and a touchdown versus UNLV)
- Ronald Martin, LSU (4.5 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions, one for a touchdown, versus Idaho)
- Ryan Nassib, Syracuse (22-for-35 passing for 335 yards and three touchdowns; six carries for 30 yards versus Stony Brook
- Terrance Owens, Toledo (20-for-28, 303 yards, one touchdown, two sacks and 9.7 yards per pass attempt versus Bowling Green)
- Casey Pachall, TCU (24-for-30 for 335 yards, two touchdowns, a sack and 10.4 yards per pass attempt versus Kansas; also: two fumbles)
- LaDarius Perkins, Mississippi State (25 touches -- 23 carries, two targets, one catch -- for 176 yards and a touchdown versus Troy)
- Tony Pierson, Kansas (nine carries for 95 yards; nine targets, six catches, 99 yards versus TCU)
- Allen Robinson, Penn State (eight targets, five catches, 136 yards and three touchdowns versus Navy; other Penn State passes went 8-for-13 for just 95 yards).
- Robbie Rouse, Fresno State (13 touches -- nine carries, four catches -- for 186 yards and four touchdowns versus Colorado)
- Matt Scott, Arizona (30-for-36 passing for 288 yards and three touchdowns; nine carries for 61 yards and a touchdown versus South Carolina State)
- Yawin Smallwood, UConn (11.0 tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble versus Maryland)
- Orwin Smith, Georgia Tech (seven touches -- six carries, one catch -- for 147 yards and a touchdown versus Virginia)
- Manti Te'o, Notre Dame (9.5 tackles, one tackle for loss, one fumble recovery, two passes broken up versus Michigan State)
- De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon (six touches -- three carries, three catches -- for 135 yards and two touchdowns, plus a 48-yard punt return (and two fumbles)
- J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State (21-for-30 passing for 347 yards and four touchdowns; six carries for 73 yards and a touchdown versus UL-Lafayette after coming in for injured starter Wes Lunt
- Sammy Watkins, Clemson (five touches -- four catches, one carry -- for 110 yards and a touchdown)
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